LONDON -- President Xi Jinping said that those seeking to divide China would be "smashed to pieces" in comments reported by state media Sunday, as protesters gathered for US-themed protests after weekend rallies descended into violence over the weekend.
In the first visit to Nepal by a Chinese president in 23 years, Xi said that "those who engage in separatist activities in any part of China will be smashed into pieces" during a meeting with the Nepalese prime minister K.P. Sharma, according to the state-owned newspaper China Daily, adding that "external support for separatists will be seen by the Chinese people as delusional."
Although the comments were not made directly in connection with the Hong Kong protests, they followed a weekend of violence in which a bomb exploded and a police officer was stabbed during overnight clashes between protesters and police.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Tang-Ping-keung, warned that "violence against police has reached a life-threatening level" in a press conference Monday.
But the protests continued with an event held in Central Hong Kong in support of the U.S. Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which is pending the approval of Congress. The act, which is believed to have broad bipartisan support, will require the State Department to report annually as to whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous, and assess annually whether "China has eroded Hong Kong's civil liberties and rule of law." Hong Kong's special status under U.S. law would be contingent on these annual reports. Other provisions of the act would impose a visa ban on anyone found torturing protesters, and allow protesters to still be able to obtain visas for travel to the U.S. even if they have police records from nonviolent protesting.
There is also further legislation pending which could impose export restrictions of certain American products such as tear gas. Senator Rick Scott requested a meeting with the company NonLethal Technologies Inc, after a report by Reuters found that the company had supplied tear gas to Hong Kong police.
The Hong Kong government today expressed their regret over to proposed bill, saying that foreign legislatures should not interfere in Hong Kong's affairs.
"Since the return to the Motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China," a spokesperson for the government said in a statement. "The 'one country, two systems' principle has been fully and successfully implemented. Human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation. The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to them and is determined to safeguard them."
Footage from the rally shows thousands of protesters, many waving American flags. One speaker asked the crowd "Do we want the help of the U.S.?" The response, an energetic "Yes!" The protest Monday evening received a "Letter of No Objection" from the Hong Kong Police in the increasingly restless economic island hub.
The Republican Senator Josh Hawley spent Sunday evening watching the protestors in Hong Kong, and released a video on social media directly addressed to the protesters expressing solidarity with the movement.
"Sometimes the fate of one city defines the challenge of a whole generation," he said. "50 years ago it was Berlin, today it is Hong Kong ... The free people of the world are standing with you so that we can all say that we're Hong Kongers' now."
Senator Ted Cruz was also been in Hong Kong over the weekend, but a scheduled meeting with the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong legislature Carrie Lam was cancelled at the last minute. Cruz criticized the NBA last week for apologizing to Chinese officials after the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters.
The protest movement began in early June in response to a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspected criminals in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial. Since then, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets every weekend.
Lam has since withdrawn the controversial bill, but widespread unrest has continued as demonstrators broadened their demands. Among their demands are a call for an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality.
ABC News' Justin Solomon and Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.
Xi Jinping vows separatists will be 'smashed to pieces' as US-themed protests begin
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